In a blog post, the Politico's Ben Smith asserted that “well-funded attacks from independent groups on behalf of [Sen.] John McCain” have “so far [been] absent” during the presidential campaign. However, the Vets for Freedom political action committee has run television ads attacking Sen. Barack Obama over issues related to the Iraq war, and independent group Freedom's Watch has put out ads attacking Obama over tax and health care issues.
In a June 19 post on his Politico blog, senior political writer Ben Smith wrote: “Obama announced in a video message to supporters this morning that he won't participate in a public financing system to which he appeared to have committed last year, citing the system's flaws and the threat of -- so far absent -- well-funded attacks from independent groups on behalf of John McCain” [emphasis added]. In fact, the Vets for Freedom political action committee launched two ads in May attacking Sen. Barack Obama over issues related to the Iraq war. Moreover, in the run-up to two special congressional elections in Louisiana and Mississippi on May 3 and 13, the independent group Freedom's Watch ran television ads linking Democratic congressional candidates Rep. Don Cazayoux (LA) and Rep. Travis Childers (MS) to Obama, claiming that Obama and Childers would levy “a $2,600 tax increase” on “many Mississippi families” and that Obama and Cazayoux are behind “a big government scheme” for health care that would “cost up to 65 billion dollars.”
Further, the group Citizens United has reportedly budgeted about $1 million for a "political documentary" on Obama that it plans to release this summer, which examines, in part, whether Obama is “the uniter the country begs for or a typical Democrat divider.” In its May 19 issue, Newsweek quoted Citizens United president David Bossie as saying that the film will portray Obama as a “limousine, out-of-control leftist liberal ... more liberal than [Vermont Sen.] Bernie Sanders, who is a socialist.”
Media Matters for America noted that two McCain supporters and frequent McCain campaign surrogates -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a general co-chairman of McCain's campaign, and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), a co-chairman of McCain's Connecticut Leadership Team -- served on the Vets for Freedom Policy Board of Advisors, but the day the group's PAC released the first Obama attack ad, they "request[ed] a leave" from their positions "[d]ue to McCain campaign guidelines." Smith himself noted Graham and Lieberman's departure from Vets for Freedom in a May 29 blog entry.
From Smith's June 19 blog post:
Obama announced in a video message to supporters this morning that he won't participate in a public financing system to which he appeared to have committed last year, citing the system's flaws and the threat of -- so far absent -- well-funded attacks from independent groups on behalf of John McCain.
Obama cast the decision, expected to give him a massive edge over McCain, as a risk and a sacrifice.